Uncle BJ’s visit

Couple of weeks ago uncle BJ, Nathan’s youngest brother, came to visit.  The kids have been excited about this visit for a long time.  For him this was more of a leisurely vacation because he travels all over the world and does all kinds of cool things.  He mainly wanted to see the country, try the food, and go to a fútbol  game.  We did all those things and even used him as a babysitter a few times to take kids to doctors appointments.Sloane perfected her sign to greet visitors at the airport.

One of the big hits for the week was playing blackjack using Halloween candy to bet with. Our new favorite restaurant is La Tortilleria. We went twice that week! 😋BJ and I got to do the Britt coffee tour and acted as taste testers. He really enjoyed the “typical food” In the evenings the kids took him to the soccer field in the neighborhood I took BJ on a hike called Tres Cruces or three crosses. It is a pretty steep hike with three different crosses as landmarks. Unfortunately, we only made it up to the first one because it was so muddy. I will try this again in the dry season. There was a beautiful view of the city the whole way. We even got to see a Christmas 🎄 farm. Nathan was able to take a day off and we visited the Poas volcano. This volcano has been closed to visitors for 17 months because of volcanic activity. It was beautiful. The smell of sulfur was very strong and it was a little daunting. It was at least 10 degrees cooler up there as well. One of Nathan’s coworker’s took them to a local fútbol game. On our last couple of days we all went to Manuel Antonio and surfed. This has become something we all enjoy to do as a family and we wanted BJ to be a part of it. The water was crazy that day but we still had a great time.We hope he will come back and visit soon!

Humidity

So my sister-in-law just reminded me that I need to document The issues were having with humidity….

So, a lot of people ask us about the weather here. We are super happy because it is so nice. The kids can play outside every day without being too hot or too cold. We even tell people that we love the fact that the humidity is nothing like what we experience in Memphis. One thing we did not think about was the humidity in the house😏😩 One day I was just looking through the closet to see if anything needed to be ironed and discovered thisEvery pair of Nathan’s dress pants was covered in mildew and most of my clothes were as well. Luckily, I was able to soak them in vinegar and baking soda and it came out.

I messaged a few friends here and they told me that this is normal for rainy season. Unfortunately, rainy season is most of the year here so it is something I’m going to have to learn how to deal with. I quickly got recommendations for how to handle it. . A trip to Walmart later I came back with a dehumidifier, dehumidifying bags and buckets for soaking up water. I am not being dramatic when I say these bags will fill up in a week.This dehumidifier holds 2 L of water and I have to change it out about every 3-4 days! This is something I really have to stay on top of. Our clothes still smell a little sour so I still need to figure that one out😩 so if anyone has any suggestions I’m happy to hear them!

Making ourselves at home…

I’ve noticed lately that I’m using the word “home” more often. I found myself the first few months always saying “at the house” or just not calling it anything at all. While Memphis is still home, I am starting to see the place where we reside here in Costa Rica as home now also.

We are really loving our school and our neighborhood. There is so much to do to keep us busy and active and we are really enjoying the beauty around us. Our church family is becoming a real FAMILY and we are starting to really know our way around. In fact, Nathan was able to drive to and from church this Sunday without using the navigation at all.  That may not mean much to just anyone but if he had visited us then you will understand😆

We were able to have our church family over in September.

we enjoy a yoga class on Wednesday evenings in the club house. The girls are working on their headstands. We are still all taking Spanish classes and although it is coming very slowly I am noticing the kids are communicating a lot better with people in Spanish. In fact, Benson was able to call the security guards the other night and have them turn the lights on at the soccer field!! All in Spanish! I was so proud. He is definitely the most confident of all of us! This is the Arenal volcano. We have now visited 3 volcanoes here in Costa Rica. Nathan has celebrated a birthday and Sloane made the cake all by herself. ( btw I had just hit a parked car in the parking lot right before the picture above😏)We are now officially temporary residents of Costa Rica. This is great because now we are able to leave the country and not worry about coming back here.

The kids were able to have student-led conferences at school. It was a great experience. Our neighborhood celebrated Halloween and the kids had a great time. We get to see all kinds of interesting things around here and this is just one example. Sloane and her friends almost got to see a cow give birth during recess one day. Sloane’s teacher asked her to decorate the classroom with positive sayings. She worked really hard and her friend Regina helped her hang them up.

This is a picture from a lunch we were invited to last Sunday after church. I honestly felt like I was with Family. This is a great group of people! I am looking forward to getting to know them even better.

I hate to jinx it but the kids seem to be getting closer through this experience. They still fight and scream at each other but the bonds that they are forming are strong and I am so grateful. Our puppy Blue has even made a friend:) we are thankful to Diego and Katherine for watching him when we go out of town and as a bonus he gets to play with Brownie My girls and their friend Mia. Blake in her soccer uniform The kids on UN day at school. They got to wear clothes to represent heir home. And Benson got to play his trumpet in the band for the first time.

We are almost 6 months in to this adventure and I’m feeling very positive. I remember the first month that we were here I was doing a mental countdown to when we were going to move back home. And the hard part of that is we don’t even know when that will be so I just had an imaginary number of weeks in my head. I don’t find myself doing that anymore. Progress!

On December 14 the kids and I will leave for a month to go back to The States. We are beyond excited and are making plans to try and see our loved ones.

¡Yo Amo Costa Rica!

So, I wanted to follow up on my whiney post by documenting all the things I love about living here in Costa Rica. And these are in no particular order😊

•The sunsets

The picture above the depicts almost every evening here in Costa Rica. Right now at the height of rainy season we don’t get to see it as much but I’m trying not to take it for granted.

•The early morning sunshine

One thing we are really enjoying is how the sun comes up very early. It makes us wake up much more naturally. There are also usually birds chirping. It’s very picturesque. The only downside to that is that the sun goes down very early which makes me ready for bed very early but not necessarily my children.

•The food

I can’t say enough about the food here. A few of our favorites are chi frijol, patacones, empanadas, picadillo, and Gallo Pinto, and our favorite ice cream place…pops! •The people

Costa Rican’s are very helpful and friendly. From waiters and waitresses to people in line behind me in the grocery store. There is almost always someone around who can speak English to help me out. I can’t count how many times I have been in the grocery store and not been able to communicate with a cashier and someone comes out of nowhere to help me.

During our first month here The kids and I were at Office Depot (yes it’s just like ours at home) making copies of some Spanish books and I was having the hardest time trying to communicate with the attendant. A lady came out of nowhere and asked me if I needed help. Of course, I did and she was able to relay what I was needing. Afterwards, the kids and I went to the back of the store to sit and wait and she came and found us and gave me her phone number. She told me if I ever needed any help translating to message her. She also invited me to an English-speaking church where she worked.

•The weather

Coming from Memphis this summer, the weather here was such a treat! People here would ask us if we were SO HOT and we would laugh and say we wouldn’t even get to be outside if we were in Memphis. We wouldn’t be able to breathe! The days can get pretty warm (but only about 80 degrees fehrenheit) but the humidity is completely different. The evenings are nice and cool. Very refreshing. One thing that is very different is the humidity in the house. There is no central air our clothes always feel wet and smell musty. I still need to work on figuring out a solution for that.

•The work ethic

The Picture above is of a man carrying at least two sheets of plywood on his back while walking down the street. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen that before. I know personally I would’ve felt like I had to have a truck to do something like that. There is a can-do attitude here. I know in our neighborhood they construction workers start at six and work through rain and wind until they are done at 4:30. When you go to restaurants or the grocery store you always see the same people working, every day, all day. Our security guards walk for miles to get to bus stops to get to and from work. And they always have a smile and a buenos dias, tardes or noches for us when we see them.

• Last but not least is the personal medical care from the kids doctors

This is the kids dentist. Benson has had to have several teeth pulled since we’ve been here and she has been awesome! She makes the kids all balloon animals before we leave and sits and talks very kindly to Benson while rubbing his head before and after she pulls his teeth.

We are also starting orthodontics with the kids while we’re here and the orthodontist was awesome too!

Our pediatrician here has also been very caring. He messages me personally to check on the kids the day after we come in and doesn’t mind if I call or message him if I have questions in between visits. That is very different for us also.

Overall things are going very well for us here. It is very different and every day still brings challenges but we’ve been very blessed with people around us and people praying for us back home.

Nana’s Visit

Last week Nathan’s mom came to visit us. We had all been looking forward to this for a while. It was fall break for her so it was the perfect time to visit. We didn’t have a lot of stuff planned to do because she really just wanted to be a part of our daily lives.

Sloane said she got tired of making new signs when people visit so she decided to make one awesome one that she can use every time someone visits. I made a Costa Rican dinner of picadillo, lizano beans and gallo pinto. After we visited for a while we had to break into the suitcases for our “goodies” from amazon and from Nana. I ordered the kids Halloween costumes ahead of time so they were excited to see them.

Sunday morning we went to church and we got to introduce Nana to our new church family. She, like my parents, felt so much better about us being here after being at the church. Early in the week we went to Nathans office and met some of his coworkers. We did some cleaning and rode bikes for exercise. I showed her the grocery store and our equivalent of sams. We worked on a few projects . And disposed of a poor bird that had run into one of our windows and inadvertently killed himself. One of her last days here we got to take her to our favorite local place, La Paz. We feel like it is a great way to take on Costa Rica in one day. There is so much to see there. One of our favorite things to do while Nana was here was to play cards. We had some great nerts tournaments! We enjoyed introducing her to the local foods here. The picture below is at one of our favorite restaurants. There we introduced her to chifrijo and patacones. Unfortunately our week had to come to an end but at least we know we will see her again in 2 months!!

Things I took for granted in the states……

*****revised

I had to add a couple more things to my list this morning that I can’t believe I forgot!

I am not writing this post to complain. I am just putting some thoughts down so I will remember how I felt at this point of our move. Here are a few things that I have realized that I took for granted living in the states. I will follow up this post by writing about all the things I love about living in Costa Rica.

#12 AMAZON

So apparently there is a way to get Amazon in Costa Rica but it is not the same. I definitely took for granted having dog food and shoes delivered to my door (in 2 days!) luckily, we have had someone come visit us just about every month since we moved here so I am able to send all of my orders to them. Since clothing is so expensive here it is a lifesaver.

# 11 Wearing “play clothes” on my days off

So Costa Rican women dress up. Like really dress up. Back at home I could start my day in workout clothes and literally take them off before I went to bed. Here women do not wear shorts and definitely look nice wherever they go. Hair is done and make up on. It is a little intimidating. It is hard for me to want to wear nice clothes when all I do is sweat! It is not that hot outside but with no air conditioning in the house I get pretty sweaty😫

#10 Not paying tolls

I can count on 2 hands how many times I’ve had to pay tolls before we moved here. We now have to pay tolls to and from just about anywhere we go. It is a little over a dollar (550 colones) each time we go through a peaja (toll booth)

#9 Stop lights

Believe it or not we do not see many stop lights here. When we first moved here we would see the street sign saying “ALTO.” I asked Nathan if alto meant yield because everyone was just kind of slowed down. He said “no, believe it or not alto means stop.” For those of you who are familiar with the 5 way stop in Bartlett….it is like that at every intersection here but way more intense. We take our lives in our hands every time we get out.

#8 Groceries not costing an arm and a leg

Many people thought that things would be so much cheaper here and we would be saving so much money….not so much. Groceries at our local grocery store are about 2x as much as the same items in Memphis. And there are some things that i just can’t get here….example, cream of chicken soup…crazy, right? Eating out is also crazy expensive. I am trying to eat more like the locals so we can save some money. I need to start going to the local farmers markets more often but the hours don’t always work out great for me.

#7 Not having lizards in my house

Here in Costa Rica we have all kinds of critters. I have seen multiple lizards in my house, worms and caterpillars most every day and I dust pan of bugs waiting for me every morning when I wake up. I once had a bird in my kitchen that did not want to leave.

#6 My hair products

I know that sounds pretty silly but I have been doing my own hair since I was about 12. I brought several things with me on the plane but I am desperately needing to do my color and I can’t find my products! Luckily, my mother in law is coming in a few days and I have already had her go pick up a huge order from the beauty supply store for me.

#5 Drive Through Pharmacies.

I never once considered how fortunate I was to have the convenience of picking up medications without even having to get out of my car!!

#4 Parking lots

I would say that one of my biggest frustrations in living here is trying to find somewhere to park. And if you are able to find somewhere to park you have to pay for it. You have to pay to park at the medical offices and hospital here. You have to pay to park at the mall. And even if you are able to find a spot on the street to park a random guy will tell you that you owe him 2 mil ($4 dollars) for him to “watch your car.”

#3 Being able to communicate with people

Now, I do realize that I am the minority here and I DO NOT EXPECT people to cater to me….but it is so very hard to try and communicate with doctors offices or security guards when you don’t speak the same language. I am finding myself able to understand more and more every week but actually SPEAKING Spanish is another story.

#2 Sonic

I know this sounds ridiculous but oh how I miss my route 44 unsweetened tea from sonic. And just the comfort of grabbing one on the way to work.

And finally #1 TARGET

That one stop, spend 2x as much as you had planned, wonder that is target. The convenience of being able to get toilet paper, spinach and razors at the same place…. and if I was lucky and had some extra cash a coffee from Starbucks too!!

Thankful

Sometimes when I am feeling sorry for myself or just feeling down I have to sit and think about all of the things or people that I am thankful for.

This week there are some very specific people that make me feel encouraged and “not alone.”

I have mentioned our “buddy family” from school before but she has turned into a real friend over the last couple of months. Her name is Mariana and she has really been a lifesaver. She has called drs offices for me to make appointments. She has helped me try and figure out the dollars vs. colones stuff and she is always answering my stupid questions without making me feel stupid.

Another new friend I am thankful for is Diana. Her husband works with Nathan and she has gone way out of her way to make me feel at home. She has also called drs offices for me and is really trying to help me understand some of the cultural things that I need to know. She is from here but also has lived in the states. I look forward to many more lunch dates…..for the conversations and for the yummy places she shows me!!

The next person is a sweet little girl in Sloane’s class. Her name is Regina. Sloane was having a very hard time and Regina is the answer to prayer. She was also having a hard time and sloane has helped her too. She came over yesterday for a play date and she is just the sweetest little girl.

I am also very thankful for Sloane’s teacher. Her name is Ysabel (Ms. Ortiz). She is most recently from Florida and has been so kind to Sloane. She has already learned Sloane’s strengths and pushes her to do her best. I am trying not to let it hurt my feelings that people think she looks more like Sloane’s mom than me…..😉

She even went to church with us last Sunday! She just jumped right in and even helped in Blake’s Bible class!

And last but certainly not least…….Julie. I met Julie at family day at school. My Spanish teacher had told me that there was a girl that I needed to meet. She said that she was interested in taking lessons and maybe we could do our classes together. She and her husband and 2 babies had just moved here from Texas and he is the high school principal. I knew from the moment I met her that we were going to be friends. It was an easy connection and I am so grateful. We started lessons together that next week and now I have someone to complain to:) We are truly going through this experience together. I really do enjoy our time together.

I feel God with me in this experience. We definitely have challenges but it could be so much worse. There have been times where I have felt isolated and most of that time I have done that to myself because I honestly think it is easier not to rely on others. But now I am feeling part of a community. It is ok to ask for help and to open yourself up to others.